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5 Thoughts on Stars-Coyotes
Kind of what you expected from this one
The Dallas Stars smashed the Arizona Coyotes 7-2.
It was never close.
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These are my thoughts.
1. I was watching this game on delay, but I’m pretty sure I know what this Tweet was asking for in the moment.
So, let’s play the hits.
D - Demonstrate slot spacing
E - Engage Mason Marchment kick pass
N - Neglect high glove
I - Inspire confidence
S - Score, finally
(For those who haven’t followed me in the past, it’s an old Twitter bit for when Denis Gurianov scores).
The DENIS system finally activated, and the Stars are better for it. It was the most important goal of the game for Dallas, not because it was the opener, but because the forward finally has something to build on in the goal-scoring category.
2. Remember when Jason Robertson was unsigned, missed all of training camp and the preseason?
Turns out it wasn’t that big of a deal after Robertson scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season on Thursday.
Robertson’s game, in my view, was always going to be immune to system or rust. Natural finishers, who aren’t the quickest skaters, don’t need preseason or training camp to dial things in, especially since player health and fitness is now a full-year endeavor.
All Robertson needed was a sheet of ice, a puck, and knowledge of where and when to be. That’s it, it’s not that complicated.
As I wrote about before the season, Robertson slows the game with his brain, and his brain was always working, even when he wasn’t in training camp with the Stars.
3. In general most defensive actions in hockey — and other sports — can be distilled to two main concepts: pressure and delay.
Pressure defending and a heavy forecheck have become more en vogue across the NHL, it’s a natural step the game has taken with the average skating ability of NHLers elevating each season.
But the Stars top defensive pair of Miro Heiskanen and Colin Miller are an ideal example of how much delay-style defending still plays a vital part in the sport.
In the first period, before the game was a certified blowout, Heiskanen delayed and skated out a chance for Clayton Keller. Keller had a rush, Heiskanen angled, forced the Coyotes forward to circle back and regroup. Heiskanen never touched the puck, but by delaying Keller’s decisions he thwarted a potential chance.
Here is a poorly hand-drawn visual. The X is the attacking player, the O is the defender.
Miller later broke up a Coyotes rush where subtle interference delayed puck decisions, and instead of a shot, the puck rolled toward Scott Wedgewood who poked it into the corner where Heiskanen recovered.
It brings up a key concept of why the Heiskanen-Miller pairing works. Heiskanen could play with anyone, frankly, but his ideal partner is one that is mobile and understands delay defending, like Miller. You don’t need to force action as Heiskanen’s partner, you simply need to understand spacing, which also helps unlock the more aggressive parts of the game.
4. (I will make one bad joke about the arena, I can’t top the ongoing commentary that Josh Bogorad and Daryl Reaugh made at the Coyotes expense during the Bally Sports Southwest broadcast.)
Wyatt Johnston played in an OHL building in Windsor that could hold 6,450 fans. On Thursday he scored an NHL goal in front of a max capacity crowd of 4,600. It’s ridiculous….
One thing that’s not so ridiculous is Johnston’s play of late, where he’s now scored in three straight games.
5. Some other observations.
— Connor Ingram got a raw deal, the Coyotes were bad and he was the scapegoat that got the hook after allowing three goals early. Not really sure what else he could do.
— Jamie Benn’s goal to make it 6-0 was a lovely highlight for the Tank Hard for Bedard campaign in Arizona. The goal was a gimme, but Benn did have a strong overall game and later set up another goal for Jani Hakanpaa that made it 7-2.
— Scott Wedgewood lost his shutout in the third period, would have been nice for him to get a clean sheet against his former franchise.
— The Coyotes reverse retros at least looked sharp.